Peter Brezina

On Linguistic Interpretation: Based on the Example of Constitutional Competencies of President of th

Jurisprudence 4/2014 Section: Articles Page: 24-30

Keywords: linguistic interpretation - powers of President of the Republic - Constitutional Law, Jurisprudence - formalism

Abstract: The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that in interpretation of statutory legal documents it is necessary to consider not only the text of specific provisions, but also their wider context. Moreover, it is sometimes the text of the document being interpreted itself that point indirectly to this necessity. In this article we focus on the enactment of the powers of President of the Republic in the Constitution of the Czech Republic, which contains a seemingly clear and simple list. A closer look reveals, however, that apart from a division on powers exercised independently and powers exercised in cooperation with the government the text of the Constitution contains little detailed information on the mode of exercise of these powers, their linguistic expression being rather confusing in this sense. It is most evident in the case of amnesty: in the words of the Constitution President of the Republic “shall (…) have the right to grant amnesty,” although this decision is countersigned by the government and has no specific addressee to be granted to. The very text of the Constitution thus urges us proceeded cautiously when interpreting it. The necessity to take into account the wider context is, however, valid for interpretation of any (legal) text. Interpretation disregarding the wider context is not adequate, is sometimes called “formalistic,” and is above all bad, not corresponding to the very text it claims to be grounded in.